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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 5. Technology Forecasting

Steve Russell

Siemens Corporate Research, Inc.

Introduction

Technology changes in response to inventions, desires, and market conditions. In order to make the best-considered investments of talent and capital, the forecasting of these technical changes is of ever-increasing global importance. Technology consists of machinery and procedures combined with directed human knowledge, so the prediction of the changing characteristics of these components involves an intersection of concerns and specialties. The flow of innovation is often predicted using applied analytic methodologies such as equations and graphs. Where less well-instrumented data can be obtained, committees of experts may be convened to collectively determine likely trends. The operative value in the resulting projections has been to retain competitive stature and to seize the lead in emerging markets.

The forecasting of changes in technology relies on a sound understanding of the nature of technical systems and the forces that promote variations in design. Technology has many forms, ranging from material items like vehicles to systems like computer software. Biotechnology is an example of a significantly different new area of innovation which is impacting society. Some technological change comes from accidental discoveries, some from directed searches for solutions, and some comes from recombining existing components in novel ways and for new applications. After a new technological item ...

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